After the drama-fuelled conclusion to the Heineken Cup pool stages which will reveal the eight quarter-finalists, a further three Heineken Cup teams will qualify for the Amlin Challenge Cup along with the five pool winners from ERC’s second tournament.
And the fortunate sides who will continue their quest for European silverware will not have to wait much longer to find out their possible routes to the Dublin 2013 European club rugby finals next May.
The semi-final draws to determine who the winners of each quarter-final will meet in the 2012/13 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup semi-finals will be made at Welford Road on Sunday.
The draws will be broadcast live on Sky Sports, on Canal Groupe’s infosport+ in France, and on ercrugby.com from approximately 5.05pm Irish time tomorrow.
Ieuan Evans, a Heineken Cup winner with Bath in 1998, and ERC Chairman Jean-Pierre Lux will conduct the semi-final draws which will also decide which teams will have ‘home country’ advantage in the Heineken Cup semi-finals which are scheduled for the weekend of April 26/27/28 at venues designated by ERC.
Five of the Heineken Cup quarter-finalists have been confirmed as of Saturday night – they are Pool 3 winners Harlequins, Pool 5 winners Clermont Auvergne, Pool 6 winners Toulon, Pool 4 winners Ulster and Pool 6 runners-up Montpellier, who are guaranteed to go through as the seventh qualifiers.
The teams who are in bold below are in their final positions. The top four teams enjoy a home draw in the quarter-finals.
The draw will see 1 v 8, 2 v 7, 3 v 6 and 4 v 5. We definitely know that Harlequins will meet either Leinster or Munster at home and that Clermont Auvergne will host Montpellier in an all-French affair.
HEINEKEN CUP QUARTER-FINAL QUALIFYING POSITIONS TO DATE:
1. Harlequins 29 points, 28 tries
2. Clermont Auvergne 28 points, 23 tries
3. Toulon 23 points, 23 tries
4. Ulster 23 points, 12 tries
5. To be confirmed (Pool 1 or 2 winners)
6. To be confirmed (Pool 1 or 2 winners)
7. Montpellier 22 points, 17 tries
8. Leinster 20 points, 12 tries or Munster (as Pool 1 runners-up with 20 points)
Pool 1 winners – either Saracens (18 points/10 tries) or Munster (15 points/9 tries)
Pool 2 winners – either Toulouse (18 points/14 tries) or Leicester Tigers (16 points/13 tries)
The Amlin Challenge Cup draw will confirm which quarter-final winners will earn the right to host their semi-finals at home venues on the same weekend in April.
With only a three-week window between the quarter-finals and the semi-finals, the early staging of the draw allows ERC to select possible semi-final venues in advance of the quarter-finals, and for the teams and ERC to begin planning in order to maximise the semi-final occasions.
HEINEKEN CUP AND AMLIN CHALLENGE CUP SEMI-FINALS DRAW FORMAT:
– Each of the four quarter-finals will be represented by a ball
– Quarter-final 1: Team 1 v Team 8; Quarter-final 2: Team 2 v Team 7; Quarter-final 3: Team 3 v Team 6; Quarter-final 4: Team 4 v Team 5
– The four balls corresponding to each quarter-final will then be drawn in turn
– The winners of the first quarter-final drawn will face the winners of the second quarter-final selected
– The winners of the third quarter-final selected will play the winners of the fourth quarter-final selected
– In the Heineken Cup draw, the winners of the first and third quarter-finals drawn will have home country advantage in the semi-finals, where relevant
– In the Amlin Challenge Cup draw, the winners of the first and third quarter-finals drawn will have home advantage in the semi-finals.
ROAD TO DUBLIN 2013 EUROPEAN CLUB RUGBY FINALS –
Quarter-finals: April 5/6/7
Semi-finals: April 26/27/28
Amlin Challenge Cup final – the RDS, Friday, May 17 (8pm)
Heineken Cup final – Aviva Stadium, Saturday, May 19 (5pm)